Iowa is home to a lot of deer: approximately 445,000 of the rugged creatures. Iowan hunters do their part to thin the herd, bagging nearly 110,000 whitetail annually, but despite their best efforts there are still a lot of bucks and does crossing roads. As of 2022, Iowa ranked fifth nationally in the likelihood of a deer collision. One out of 58 Iowans will strike a deer with their vehicle!

Fortunately, deer collisions are rarely fatal. Although there are about 1.5 million deer-car accidents in the United States every year, they only cause between 175 and 200 fatalities. That means you have a roughly one in 8,000 chance of dying following a deer collision. But deer collisions do injure approximately 10,000 Americans annually – as well as cause more than $1 billion in insured losses.

What’s the best way to avoid a deer collision? Simple: don’t hit the deer with your car or truck in the first place. That is easier said than done in some circumstances, as many deer exhibit positively disastrous judgment around roadways and seem determined to get themselves clobbered by vehicles. But with a little precaution, you can significantly reduce your risks of collision and injury.


Buckle Up

Nine out of ten Americans buckle up on the road. Make sure you are one of them, because most people who die in accidents hadn’t secured their seatbelts.


Maintain a Safe Speed

Some motorists believe it is best to accelerate before striking a deer. They are under the impression that the deer will have a lower chance of going through their windshield if they lift the front end of their vehicle.

Don’t fall for this line of thinking. The lower the speed at which you hit a deer, the less damage it can do to your vehicle. Impact energy is determined by exactly two factors: mass and velocity. You can’t make a deer weigh less before hitting it, but you can hit it more gently.


Exercise Greater Caution Around Dusk and Dawn

Ask any hunter: whitetail are most active during low-light periods. You should always be on the lookout for deer on the road, but you should remain especially vigilant if you are driving to work in the morning or returning home from a restaurant after dinner.


Don’t Swerve

When a deer leaps in front of your vehicle, your initial impulse may be to attempt to swerve out of the way. Resist that impulse. Your risks of injury and vehicle damage are both lower if you strike the deer head-on as opposed to potentially losing control of your vehicle.


Use Your High-beams

High-beams won’t scare deer away while they are standing on the road, but they will give you more time to react to their presence. Deer are transfixed by the sight of oncoming headlights. You may think you can jolt the animal out of its trance by flashing your lights. This approach is inadvisable, as it may only startle the deer into running directly into your car’s trajectory.


Don’t Rely on Deer Whistles

Deer whistles can’t hurt – but that’s not to say they will help, either. No evidence supports the claim that deer whistles reduce the risk of deer collisions. It appears that the animals may be able to hear deer whistles, but not over a great enough range to give them time to react to an oncoming vehicle.


Be Aware of Places Where Deer are Most Active

You may have noticed that deer are common around certain parts of your commute. Make certain you slow down while traversing those stretches of road. Exercise heightened vigilance while you are driving along roads that separate forest from farmland, as deer cross those frequently.


Don’t Try to Predict Deer

Whitetail are clever enough to forage for food, raise their young, evade predators, and survive the Midwest’s brutal weather. They are not mentally equipped to deal with vehicles, which have only been around for several decades. Deer may stop in the center of the road while crossing. They may cross the road and then immediately retrace their steps. They may even run in the direction of an oncoming vehicle. This is all to say that you cannot predict what a deer will do when you approach it on the road.


Alert the Police if You Strike a Deer Without Killing It

If a deer is still moving after you have struck it, pull over and wait to see if it recovers well enough to walk away. If the deer remains stationary but still appears capable of movement, then it may drag itself back onto the road where it can jeopardize another motorist. In that circumstance, you should report the deer’s location to an officer of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources or a local law enforcement agency


Salvage Roadkill Legally

If you hit and kill a deer with your truck, you may rightly wish to offset the damage by loading that fine hunk of venison into your bed. Just make sure you do so legally. According to Iowa state law, “Any person wanting to possess game accidentally killed by a motor vehicle shall immediately notify the nearest conservation officer, Iowa state trooper, or sheriff’s department and request a salvage tag prior to taking possession of said game.


Make Sure You Have Car Insurance

Some deer collisions are unavoidable. Don’t get stuck paying out of pocket for any repairs your car or truck might need after it has walloped a deer. Protect your finances by purchasing auto insurance ahead of time! And if you live in Iowa, securing the ideal insurance policy for your unique needs is always as easy as contacting the Hoffman Agency.